Illustrated Animal Alphabets…

I’m working on an animal illustrated A, B, C for my portfolio at the moment, so thought I’d share some of my favourite illustrated alphabets…

You find them everywhere, illustrated alphabets, from early 19th century examples with ornate lettering accompanying fine engravings, to modern graphic versions in children’s board books. The simple idea of using a illustrated image to bridge the gap between letters, sounds and objects is a vital learning tool for children, but the idea also provides an illustrator with the opportunity to create a kind of ready made collection of 26 illustrations. I’m particularly interested in animal illustrated alphabets, of course, seeing as I have a penchant for the four legged creature (or eight-legged, or no-legged for that matter), and there are some beautiful examples to be found. Especially those that vary slightly from the A for Alligator, B for Bird etc.

Erni Cabat’s Magical ABC Animals Around The Farm

I think this is supposed to be a children’s book, but the illustrations are so beautiful and original, I want a copy! These images are a bit small unfortunately as Erni Cabat’s work doesn’t seem to be that well known, or available on the internet…but I plan to get my hands on a copy of the book to have the whole gorgeous menagerie. I gather he was an American artist/illustrator and released a series of ‘Erni Cabat’s Magical…’ books in the late 80’s/early 90’s, but apart from that I can’t seem to find much more information. If anyone has any further knowledge, please let me know!?

X for foX, seriously!

O for Owl

Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet
I love Paul Thurlby‘s retro illustrated alphabet. It’s hard to choose just three letters to use in this post as they’re all pretty lovely. They have a really nice 50’s kind of feel about them and some use very clever visual tricks to merge the letter with the animal subject matter, such as the rabbit below. The words and subjects used to represent the letters are original too using lots of very active words, such as E for Embrace, B for Bounce and H for Hang.

The whole alphabet in all it’s retro glory

Edward Gorey’s ‘The Gashlycrumb Tinies’
So on a slightly different, darker slant the genius but macabre alphabet written and illustrated by Edward Gorey. I was bought this book as a present and at first thought it was a bit horrendous, but the detailed monochrome illustrations are fascinating, skilfully done and are a nicely dark take on an illustrated alphabet. The book follows the demise of every last one of the 26 Gashlycrumb Tinies, whose deaths are the result of everyday accidents such as ‘A is for Amy for fell down the stairs’ and ‘E is for Ernest who choked on a peach’. All illustrated with just what looks like pen and ink with amazing cross hatching and linear techniques. Below are some of my favourites…Poor Basil eh?


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